Sunday, August 1, 2010

What is the Equal Rights Amendment?

I thought this was a great concise answer to start with.  Many young women take for granted the "equality" we have here in America, which is better than most countries, but still lacking in equality. 

Because we are born  American we are allowed a few more liberties in speaking up, making changes and staying safe ( sort of ) whilst trying to change things.  In a later article I will discuss and give links to rights for women in other countries...especially in Muslim majority countries where honor killing and punishments like canings are the norm.  For now lets focus on America.

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Question: What is the Equal Rights Amendment or ERA?

Proposed and passed by Congress but never ratified by the necessary number of states, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) affirms equal justice under the law to all citizens by guaranteeing freedom from sex discrimination. It was the brainchild of suffragist Alice Paul, founder of the National Women's Party, who wrote the ERA in 1923 as follow-up to the 19th amendment (granting women the right to vote.) Paul believed the ERA was the next necessary step to secure and codify women's rights in the U.S.
Answer: First brought before Congress in 1923, the Equal Rights Amendment has been introduced into every session of Congress between 1923 and 1972. In its original form, the ERA advocated for the end of gender bias in 18 short words:

Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.

Support for the ERA could be found in the party platforms of both the Republicans and the Democrats by the time Paul rewrote the amendment in 1943:

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Despite nearly 50 years of inaction, a reworked version of the Equal Rights Amendment was finally passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives in 1972 as the proposed 27th amendment to the Constitution. The ERA now included three sections:

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

On March 22, 1972, the ERA was sent to the states for further action. For the amendment to become law, three-quarters of the states needed to ratify the ERA within a 7-year time frame. Although reaching the magic number of 38 states initially seemed likely, strong opposition to the ERA surfaced among far-right religious groups, states' rights advocates, businesses, and other traditional organizations. By 1977 only 35 states had ratified the ERA. After much public pressure, Congress extended the deadline for ratification to June 30, 1982. However, the tide had already turned by 1980 when the Republican Party removed support for the ERA from its platform. That same year, the election of Ronald Reagan as president ushered in a significantly more conservative era.

Two weeks after it failed to gain ratification by the necessary 38 states, the ERA was again reintroduced in Congress on July 14, 1982, and continued to be introduced in every session of Congress.

The 7-year time frame is no longer an issue in more recent versions of the ERA. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) and Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) introduced a deadline-free ERA in the Senate and House respectively in the 110th Congress.

With the 2008 election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, many feel that the time is right for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. At an awards ceremony sponsored by the National Women's Political Caucus on July 14, 2009, Rep. Carolyn Maloney announced her intent to reintroduce the ERA in Congress on Tuesday, July 21, 2009, telling the assembled audience, "If we can get it to the floor, it can pass."


Francis, Roberta W. "The History Behind the Equal Rights Amendment.", retrieved July 20, 2009.

ERA Campaign for updates from 2008 and 2009
how you can help

· Contact Rep.Carolyn Maloney (2332 Rayburn HOB, Washington DC 20515-3214, fax 202-225-4709), chief sponsor of the “start-over” Equal Rights Amendment (that she usually calls the Women’s Equality Amendment) resolution in the House of Representatives. Urge her to reintroduce it in March as she has done in the past, and to press forward to win the necessary two-thirds House vote to approve it.

· Contact Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives (Office of the Speaker, H-232, US Capitol, Washington DC 20513-3214, phone 202-225-0100, or leave a message on Urge her to facilitate the progress of the ERA/WEA resolution so that it will be passed as soon as possible.

· Contact Representative Robert Andrews (2439 Rayburn HOB, Washington DC 20515, phone 202-225-6501). Urge him to reintroduce his resolution in support of the 3-state strategy, requiring the House of Representatives to take any legislative action necessary to verify the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment as part of the Constitution when the legislatures of an additional three states ratify it.

· Contact Senator Edward Kennedy (317 Russell Senate Office Bldg., Washington DC 20510, telephone 202-224-4543, or send him a message online at Urge him to reintroduce the ERA/WEA in the Senate in March, as he has done in the past, and press forward to achieve the two-thirds Senate vote needed to to pass it.

· Contact Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (phone 202-224-3542, fax 202-224-7327, 522 Hart Senate Office Bldg., Washington DC 20510). Urge him to facilitate the progress of the ERA/WEA resolution in order to get it passed as soon as possible.

· Note: None of the above congressional resolutions, if and when passed, will incur any costs to the US government or the taxpayers.


If you live in, or are particularly interested in, one (or more) of the following not-yet ratified states, contact the state’s ERA leader or organization for guidance as to how best to help their ongoing campaign to achieve their state’s ratification of the ERA while the mood of the country is on our side:

· ARKANSAS, where Rep. Lindsley Smith of the state’s legislature, whose resolution proposing state ratification of the ERA was narrowly defeated in committee during the 2007 session, plans to bring back the resolution during the upcoming 2009 session, saying, “I’ve had legislators who’ve questioned it in the past say, ‘Hey, I’m going to support it this time’….I think everything’s in line to pass it in the 2009 session.” Contact Berta Seitz,, phone 479-442-6256.

· FLORIDA, where hard-fought efforts to achieve ratification continue unabated, with high hopes for major progress this year. Contact Sandy Oestreich,, phone 727-393-0932, website Note: The Florida effort is in special need of donations.

· GEORGIA, where there are ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the ERA and build political support for the amendment, contact Idella Moore of 4ERA, info@4ERA/org, phone 678-793-6965, website

· ILLINOIS, where legislator Lou Lang has pre-filed the ERA bill, Hjrca003, in their House of Representatives, and ERA activists are moving ahead vigorously for ERA ratification in this (2009) session. Contact Emily Battin,, phone 217-229-3754.

· LOUISIANA, another state where ERA activists have high hopes for ratification soon. Contact Sandra Hufstetler of ERA Louisiana,, phone 985-345-3001.

· MISSOURI, where the current effort is focused particularly on working to get pro-ERA women elected to the state legislature, contact Shirley Breeze, chair of the Missouri Women’s


  1. Congratulations and thank you for promoting the Equal Rights Amendment! We are a brand new social justice enterprise with an exciting new strategy for ERA to end women and girls' 2nd class citizenship by 2015. Please join our new Facebook page United For Equality, LLC or contact us at

    In Sisterhood,

  2. Thanks for the stop by! I will gladly post and share your site!